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National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB)

For Immediate Release
Thursday, October 4, 2007


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NIBIB Invests in Quantum Research

The National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), today announced the award of more than $12 million in grants to support research and development of potentially high-impact, innovative technologies to advance health care.

The new grants will fund four investigators in developing groundbreaking technologies: disposable microchips for the diagnosis of metastatic lung cancer, a bio-artificial kidney to eliminate dialysis procedures, insulin-producing cells to treat diabetes, and nanoparticles that selectively leave the blood and bind to cancer cells to assist in removal of brain tumors.

"This innovative program from the NIBIB promises to harness the power of technological discovery and team science to translate new knowledge into practical healthcare benefits for our nation," said Elias A. Zerhouni, M.D., NIH director.

The overall goal of the NIBIB Quantum Grants program is to make a profound (quantum level) advance in health care by funding research on targeted projects that will develop new technologies and modalities for the diagnosis, treatment, or prevention of disease.

"We are excited to be awarding these Quantum Grants to four excellent researchers and their interdisciplinary teams," said NIBIB director Roderic I. Pettigrew, Ph.D., M.D. "We look forward to watching the extraordinary results that will be achieved as these studies progress. All four of these projects have the potential to significantly improve the current practice of medicine."

Anthony Atala, M.D., Wake Forest University Health Sciences
$3.2 million (3 years)
Insulin Producing Cells from Amniotic Stem Cells for Diabetes Therapy

Diabetes impacts the individuals afflicted and society as a whole due to the significant complications associated with using existing insulin treatment strategies. The aim of this project is to develop a new source of insulin secreting cells as a replacement strategy for treating diabetes. Transplantation of pancreatic islets to restore insulin production is promising; however, the donor pancreata are in short supply and do not meet medical needs. The development of these tissue engineered islets will provide a new source of insulin-producing cells and help realize the full potential of cell therapy for diabetes.

Raoul Kopelman, Ph.D., University of Michigan at Ann Arbor
$2.6 million (3 years)
Nanoparticle Enabled Intraoperative Imaging and Therapy

Brain cancer is one of the most lethal forms of cancer, and is diagnosed in over 43,000 new patients each year. The goal of this project is to improve surgical resection and treatment options for brain cancer patients. Dr. Kopelman and his team will develop nanoparticles that selectively leave the blood and bind to cancer cells. These nanoparticles will aid in the visualization of tumors to allow for maximal surgical resection of tumor mass and also facilitate nonsurgical destruction of the residual cancer cells that are remote or extend from the tumor mass. This may achieve significant improvement in treatment of brain tumors.

Shuvo Roy, Ph.D., Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine-CWRU
$3.2 million (3 years)
Miniaturized Implantable Renal Assist Device for Total Renal Replacement Therapy

End stage renal disease is a significant global health problem. Donor kidneys for transplantation are in short supply, with dialysis and filtration as the only alternative treatment. This investigator and his team will develop a, miniaturized, implantable, and self-regulating bio-artificial kidney that takes the dialysis machinery and integrates it into a miniaturized implantable device. The successful development of this bio-artificial kidney would provide an alternative to the majority of the dialysis procedures performed annually in the U.S.

Mehmet Toner, Ph.D., Massachusetts General Hospital
$3.4 million (3 years)
Point-of-Care Microfluidics in Lung Cancer

The goal of this project is to develop a point-of-care microchip device that can determine the type, severity, and aggressiveness of a wide range of cancers by detecting tumor cells that are circulating in the blood stream. Dr. Toner and his team will develop a new disposable microchip technology capable of separating specific circulating tumor cells from whole human blood at concentrations as low as one in a billion. Detecting the presence of these tumor cells at such low concentrations enables earlier intervention in the treatment of metastatic lung cancer, which remains the leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. This point of care test can potentially transform patient care through early molecular diagnosis of lung cancer and identification of new biomarkers with which to track disease progression.

For more information about the NIBIB Quantum Grants program, visit the web site at: http://www.nibib.nih.gov/Research/QuantumGrants.

The National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), a component of the National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is dedicated to improving human health through the integration of the physical and biological sciences. The research agenda of the NIBIB will dramatically advance the Nation's health by improving the detection, management, understanding, and ultimately, the prevention of disease. Additional information and publications are available at www.nibib.nih.gov.

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) — The Nation's Medical Research Agency — includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting basic, clinical and translational medical research, and it investigates the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit www.nih.gov.


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